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Lesli's Page - A Park Ranger in Vermont

My name is Lesli. I am adicted to Maps, hiking Boots....and Chocolate. And I am a State Park Ranger in Vermont. The onset of good weather is a time to trade in the high heels for steel toes, dress pants for jeans, moisturizer and makeup for sunblock and playing in the mud! This is where I record my adventures for you all to read. Please feel free to leave a me note for me and I will try to keep up! Happy reading!

Diary Entries

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Location: Waterbury, USA

Hello All!

The camping season is over once again! Phew! We made it! And it was a great one! The fall weather was fantastic making for a fantastically busy fall - especially when you only have three people on duty (and only two days a week when all three of you are actually there in the park!) The summer weather didn't want to leave us and a few records were broken for daytime highs. We barely got any rain in September which caused the leaf turned to stall a little. We actually hit peak this week instead of last but it was still pretty nonetheless. The phones went nuts our last week as everyone was clamoring to get a site for the holiday weekend and our last weekend of operations. We were full for what we had open (about 60 of the 101 sites)...then Saturday afternoon we got a big surprise! It thundered and poured! We had no clue it was coming at all! Sure dampened a lot of campfires but sure didn't dampen the campers spirits. We stayed full! Turns out we got the same amount of rain on that weekend as we did in all of September...that's how dry Sept was!
So since then we have been scrambling around to get the park closed down as we were spending so much time maintaining it still until closing that we now have to get it all done for the 20th. We have painted 7 leantos (inside) so far and repainted the dreaded bathroom before the rains came back this week bringing the right temperatures. We are scraping another bathroom with the help of the heat guns (may we never scrape without them again!) I can't believe how much easier they make it! The job is almost enjoyable! We will have to pack up the office soon so I wanted to get in one more entry before that happens.
This is the first time that I have had to deal with the possibilities that this may be my last season here in Vermont. The Loonie jumping over the greenback being the only reason and trust me when I say that it is just as difficult for me to type it as it is for me to say it without tearing up. I've even been told by another park ranger who maybe burned out and not returning to his park (the financially busiest park, and second largest park in the state) that he doesn't want to turn his park over to just anyone and I am the first person he thought of...talk about making it harder, eh?! I've invested so much time and so much of me into these parks that I can't imagine not being here. They are really a part of me now. But it’s a piece of reality I have to learn to accept sooner or later. I can’t keep going backwards in income when everything else is going the other way! It’s amazing how it can really make a person pay attention to every detail of your day. Cross your fingers that I can find a way back for another season! Regardless I have enjoyed this experience immensely and I appreciate every moment it’s given me! How many people can really say that they spent their summers actually outside! :)

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Location: Camel's Hump, USA

So I finally made it up Camel’s Hump! It’s the second tallest peak (4083ft) in Vermont. I went up the tallest peak (Mt. Mansfield - 4393) my first season here but its taken a while for me to get to the hump. Little River is of course, situated between the two peaks. I didn’t want to go up during the summer since it would be really hot and I am not keen on hiking in the heat if I can help it. So on Tuesday I decided to go for it. Everyone has told me that it gets really cool near the top and to take warm clothes so with it being “fall” like weather (our high that day was 68F) I had warm clothes on….
I was stripping the first layer at the first trailhead crossing and was almost down to the bra by the second! I was so hot! Also, its not a hike…it’s a climb! Everyone said that the Monroe trail is the best one to take…that’s because it’s the shortest way up but it also one big rock scramble. I do like scrambles because it makes it interesting but as I was nearing the top I was getting tired of them. But then I caught a glimpse of the view and nothing else mattered. It was beautiful! Completing the last 0.3mile rock climb was a non-issue at that point. This is where I crossed into the alpine zone too. It was slightly chilly at the top but I was still hot and sweaty. I only put on my long sleeved shirt because I knew that it was colder than what I was feeling. I sat there for a while just taking in the view from all angles. I also wanted to rest my legs as I knew that I had to go back down the same way I came up in order to get to my car. The good thing about rock scrambles is that you can literally climb up using all fours …but coming down is another storey. My knees were shaking about half way down with the impact of rock on foot. I only got one blister on my toe this time which is a huge improvement from when I did the Grand Canyon – don’t hike down with shoes on! Go with sandals – trust me! In total it took me about four hours round trip (3.5 miles each way) but I also take breaks and take pictures along the way. All in all it was a good day out on the trails. You meet really nice people as everyone there is very respectful of the mountain and I only managed to pick up two small pieces of trash (you can take the ranger out of the park…)!
I celebrated my achievement with two Advil and a beer and prayed that my knees would be fine in the morning! (they were – the calf muscles were a different story!)

Monday, 17 September 2007

Location: Waterbury, USA

I know! I Know! Long time no write! And I have the same excuse as last time too! It’s been busy! We definitely went out of the busy camper period with a bang! We were over full for Labour Day weekend and I had to work it as a Lone Ranger that weekend as my assistant has guests in town. Normally on a Sunday (or holiday Monday) we have 60-70 sites to clean as we don’t completely empty out…Labour day weekend we had 90 sites to clean and only 5 campers that night! What a change! We definitely knew that summer was considered over!
We’ve been in “get projects done” mode now that its not as full. Our Call Center Manager was laughing at me because I had a huge smile on my face when I went in to drop off our accounting for the week. I told her that this was my favorite time of the year! I really do love the fall but I also consider this our treat time. We have worked so hard all season long making sure the campground was clean and campers were happy and now its our turn to get all those projects done that we have been staring at all season. The campers that come out this time of year are usually great too. The real hardy ones…oh! And the motorhomes. As I write this, we are in a cold snap. Last night dropped just below freezing and right now its 36F outside. Its supposed to warm up to the mid 60sF today but drop near freezing again tonight. I’ve got the heat on in the house but because it is not insulated its barely 60F in there right now. Burrr!
We’ve washed all the leantos on the B-Side to scrub out and kill the mould that has been building up over the years …that was fun! We washed them with vinegar and water (we were told that it works just as well as bleach but not as harmful – we’ll see!) and then had to rig up a way to get the hose from the bathroom or the water taps to spray them out. We asked to borrow the power washer but our maintenance dept wouldn’t let us use it saying that they wouldn’t dry out well. So we did it our way….it would have been a messy and unproductive to carry buckets of water. So far it looks like they have dried very well with spraying from the hose…and very clean I might add! Maybe this week we might get to some well overdue painting!
What I also like about the fall campers is that they are usually more considerate and aware of their environment. All summer we have battled with the “ignorant campers” who burn everything in their fire pit (despite it being against the law in Vermont to burn garbage). We have to clean and separate all that each time we clean the fire pits. So number one, it’s a pain in the butt. Not to mention if they throw glass bottles in there it take extra long to pick out broken glass. Number two: plastics. We can tell right away if someone burned (or melted more like) plastics in their pit. Such a horrible smell and its toxic! I have no love for plastic to begin with so this doesn’t help the cause. Speaking of which, I was in a store that I frequently check out a couple of weeks ago and bought an item that was already in a sealed plastic bag and the cashier went to put it in another plastic bag. I told her I didn’t want the bag and she told me that I had to take it in the bag. I asked her if she could just put a sticker on the item and she told me that she needed me to take the plastic bag with my purchase … so not to keep the line held up any longer I told her that I would take it up with customer service as I didn’t appreciate having the plastic bag thrust upon me. Her response was along the lines of be my guest. Luckily when I explained the situation to Customer Service they saw my point and gave me the sticker and took the plastic bag back. Can you imagine someone telling you that you have to take the plastic bag! How ridiculous! I try to avoid that cashier now when I go in. None of the others have ever tried that one with me either. Since I’m on this rant why is it that yogurt comes in containers that aren’t widely recyclable??? Number 5’s aren’t recyclable in Vermont and I don’t know of many places that they are. Yet there seems to be a big push of yogurt as part of a healthy diet. So we eat healthy then throw away the containers?! Just something I know I ponder when I’m grocery shopping……

On to other stuff! I saw my first Black Bear in Vermont. Definitely not my first encounter nor my closest encounter with Black bears but a first for VT! I was driving back up tot eh park last Friday night after dropping off our banking in town and first came across two white tailed deer in the road…we have apple trees in the yard of the farm house so its of no surprise to see them. I slowed down nonetheless to let them cross (or bounce across) the road. Shortly after that, near the area where the road caved in a couple of years ago I saw this big black thing lumbering across the road and just as I looked to see where it was going I saw a baby bear butt disappear into the bushes! That was a first seeing a baby! I’ve seen young bears but not a baby in the wild. We had had a report of a mom and cub in the park once but haven’t heard anything since and this family who had her come through their site had been leaving food containers out and using their site as their own personal washroom. No wonder!

Now that its getting colder out we are hearing more reports from campers of mice getting into there stuff and trailers. One family had a pack of kangaroo mice band together and push their food bin off the bench to the ground so they could get into it and at first they thought they had a skunk because all they saw was the white bellies and it wasn’t until they started breaking away that they realized that it was about 30 mice in the bin! Some campers have reported taking home presents for the neighbourhood cats too. I haven’t had any problems since the bottom boards around the house were fixed but the contact station has sure had its share! They are getting brave and actually showing their faces. The squirrels and chipmunks are having face-offs with us while raking the sites. We are trying to clean and they are storing food for the winter! Haven’t had any skunks around the house either (that I know off) ever since the house got skunked one night. Thankfully I had my bedroom window shut…that could have been really bad. Instead it was my poor bathroom that got hit. Its been through a lot this season.

Anyways I guess I should bring this to a close for now. My mind is on all the stuff we need to get done before the end of the season and the reports that I have to write. Time is going to go by quickly I can tell! It seems so strange to see it get dark at 7:30 now. It may be a slower time as far as campers but we have definitely not slowed down. I’m still working very long hours (17 hours both on Friday and Saturday this past weekend alone) and staff numbers have dwindled to three. Hope everyone is doing well and I will hopefully write again soon!


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Recent Messages

From The other park range
I can't believe I found you just by playing on the internet. Sounds like you had a great season. I'm working in MD and always thinking of VT... but don't worry- I'm plotting my return!!
From Lucy
Hey Les, great to know you're still keeping VT's parks tiptop! Good on you. Camels Hump is a fab hike. We've just moved to the NW highlands of Scotland -remote and beautiful with deer, eagles, otters, seals, puffins, whales and even loons. Sadly no bears. I can't believe you saw a black bear in VT, lucky you. Drop me a line sometime ok? And hi to Aubrie if she's reading this! Take care x
From John and Joellen Tub
Glad to hear you're stateside once again Lesli!! All's well here on the farm :-) - we are well and hope the same is true for you!

xxoo Joellen and John
Response: Hey John and Joellen! Glad to hear that everything is going well! Will have to get down sometime and see all the work you guys have done to the farm!
Miss ya! xoxo Lesli
From Uncle Bob
Hi Lesli,

Glad to see you are enjoying your park life once again. I really enjoy your web page and photos. Keep up the good work and hopefully your park will be number one this year.

Take care............Bob
Response: I'm definitely loving the park life! There is nothing like standing out in the rain and loving it! I'll pass this on to my bosses to help drop the hint about numero uno! ;) We already think it is - I guess that's what really counts eh?!
From Aubrie
GIRL, when do you sleep? My, my, how I miss vermont on some days! Hope all is well with ya lesli! Thanks for the update, it's fantastic to hear from you! Keep a' smiling, cuz' there ain't no other way!
Response: Sleep is for those cold, snowy months! Too many potential sunny days right now! Hope you and Jason have a wonderful Second Anniversary! We all miss you guys too!
From Lucy
Ayeup there missy it's great to catch up with your adventures once again! Looks like you got your park sewn up already - you must be SuperWoman! Have a great season.
Response: Hey guys! It s been a very busy season already! Ah! Just the way I like it! More pics have been posted and an update entry is on the way! Hope you guys are having a fantastic summer!
From Wally
Good to hear from ya Les!!!

Hope to catch you again soon!!
Response: Thanks Wally!

Hope all is well out in Edmonton...if you have any sun could you send some our way?! ;)
From Andy
Great Pics Les!

What's going on? Are you their year round now?

Take Care!
Andy
Response: Hey Andy!

It almost feels like it by now ( this is my fifth season!) but I'm usually home in the winters - this past winter was a tad chaotic so I apologze for not getting in touch with ya!
From Cam Q
awesome page Les, well done!! Hang in there, don't let the ratty bush woman give you a hard time...
Response: Thanks Cam! :)
Ratty bush woman left today! We've shipped her back to the Florida swamps! We had our last row yesterday over her evaluation as expected, I say I won but that's just my opinion! and I did the happy dance this morning!
From John and Joellen
www.tubbsfarmstead.com

Hello Lesli!! Smiles and hugs to you! Waiting to see photos of your new park and how things are going! We are raising sheep in addition to everything else and waiting for our piglets to be born on July 9th! Hope you enjoy your birthday this year! How old are you now!? LOL

Try some Avon Skin So Soft on those noseeums....worked in Florida - if you can stand the smell...!?

John and I are fabulous and looking forward to your visit to our neck of the woods! FREE CAMPING!

Love and Hugs!
Joellen and John
Response: Smiles and Hugs back!! I'm still 29 ;) (+ a couple - but who's counting!) the heat has taken care of the Noseeums...finally! Hope youare enjoying your new additions to the family! Hope to get down there soon! LOL!
From Norm&Barb Isbister
Hi Lesli,

Greetings from downunder.

Hope all is going really well

Your travel page is great.

Look after yourself

Will write again,

love, Barb Norm and Georgie
Response: Greetings from Vermont! Hope you guys are having as great a winter as we are summer! There is no way anyone can complain about the weather this year!
From Aubrie Hurley
Good Luck Lesli! Great idea on the travel page, can't wait to see pictures! I know you will do well at Little River...new adventures await you, my friend. There's nothing like being a park ranger is there? I truly love it as well. Come visit my park in NC sometime!! Best wishes and many smiles to you!
Response: Thanks so much Aubrie! You're right! Nothing like being a Park Ranger! I will definitely have to come and visit you and Jason! Hope you are having a wonderful season as well!
From Lucy
Awwww Les, I'm thrilled to know you're going to be working direct for FPR! They're lucky to have you at beautiful Little River. You mean no more WoRD...no writeups....no FUNN??? Have a great one. Love, Lucy and Ben
Response: Little River is wonderful! Will be even better when the reservoir is filled! Yep...no more! Hope you are having a fantastic summer!